Stormers already on knockout footing

PUBLISHED: May 5, 2008

Vodacom Stormers coach Rassie Erasmus says his team are not concerned about bonus points because his men are already in knockout mode and are approaching their games like they would a semifinal.

Some critics were concerned after the 20-10 win over the Brumbies that the Cape team may be leaving too many bonus points on the table by not scoring four tries. Last week, against the Highlanders, a team they were expected to beat easily, the Stormers also scored only two tries.

Earlier in the season they had a sequence of games where they scored four tries or more, and the Stormers currently have the joint highest number of bonus points, seven, as any other team in the competition.

“If we win the remaining games we will be in the semifinals, that is the way we are looking at it. We need to win our matches, we are not going for the bonus points,” said Erasmus.

“To start a match looking for bonus points is to my mind a good way of losing a match. We are in semifinal mode now, we have to win every game, and maybe it will help us when the real knockouts arrive as we are getting used to the sort of rugby you play in a semi, where the only important thing is that you win. Our defence has been good and so has our field kicking game.”

Erasmus agreed that this coming weekend’s clash with the Waratahs is massive, and almost equates to a quarterfinal. The loser will not necessarily be out of the race following a weekend of upsets, but they will lose the right to say they are masters of their own destiny going into the final round of the league stage.

The Waratahs are currently second on the log, but the Stormers will leapfrog them if they win on Saturday. The Vodacom Bulls did the Stormers a massive favour by beating the Waratahs at Loftus, and if the Stormers clinch a home semi, they may have their old northern rivals to thank.

However the problem team for the Stormers, if they hope to clinch a home semifinal, which must surely be figuring somewhere in their thoughts, is the Hurricanes. They picked up five log points against the Lions to move into third place, and the Stormers need them to make a false step either next week against the Western Force in Wellington or a week later against the Blues in Auckland.

Erasmus and his team though are not thinking too much at the moment about what happens to the other teams. They want to control what they can control, and wins in the next two matches will be enough to book them a semifinal place.

“Our destiny is in our hands,” said the coach. “If we have a bit of luck and other teams beat other teams to make it possible to make a home semi, then so be it, but the way we look at it we just need to keep winning and that will mean a place in the playoffs.”

For the first time in two matches the Stormers ended the game against the Brumbies without any major injury worries to key players and will start their buildup to the Waratahs game with the same players who beat the Brumbies.